An astonishing tweet flashed by me just now which suggested that Iain Duncan Smith is telling his activists the government plans to control how benefit recipients spend their money. If this is true, and I have heard other stories recently of smartcards various which might be introduced to achieve exactly that, it certainly begs a sequence of very serious questions: first, and most importantly, how on earth a political party such as the Conservatives have become a group of morality-peddling nannies, capable of far outdoing anything New Labour was ever accused of having got up to.
And here I am, trying to understand these behaviours. And you know what, I think I’ve worked out why it’s all happening. The businesspeople-cum-politicians who have been ruling us for years, who see politics as an extension of effective business practice rather than – this being my understanding – a proactive mediation between the interests of free-market-loving consumers on the one hand and the monopolistic tendencies of corporate capitalism on the other, have – in some surreptitious, unconscious and/or subliminal way – decided it’s time not only to make it easier to be a corporation but also to make it more difficult to be a person.
It’s almost as if the psychology is working in the following way: after decades of constrictions, restrictions and legal governance imposed from up on high, of the power of the consumer as protected by the social-democratic states of yore, these businesspeople-cum-politicians are beginning to realise it’s now going to be possible to make people in the image of their blessedly oppressed companies of the past.
It’s almost as if they’re saying it’s your turn as a citizen, as an ordinary person, as a voter and end-user, as a consumer and worker, to feel as regulated, tracked, persecuted and chased as we, your grand providers, have experienced for so many years.
Whatever the reason, it’s true that the sliders are now being pushed in opposite directions: deregulation of corporate agencies, their lobbyists and their sponsored accompanies a simultaneous pattern of increasing regulation around flesh-and-blood figures.
We may wonder if under Coalition Britain it is now easier to be a corporation than a person.
But the question which surely should occupy us is why this is going to be the case.
And in my meandering, disbelieving and indirectly confused way, I finally think this is simply a matter of cruel and casual vengeance.
They do it because they can.
They do it because it’s time.
They do it because the history books have shown that people who have so very much to lose are going to wait until it’s too late in the foolish belief they might not lose it all.
These businesspeople-cum-politicians are right in one thing they say, mind: we are soft, too comfortable and dependent on a centralised authority.
But they are wrong when they argue this authority is the government.
In reality, we are soft, too comfortable and dependent on the companies these businesspeople-cum-politicians have made in their ever-so-autocratic images.
If we are indeed living in a state of sofa-sitting layabouts, it is only because our corporations have made us so: have made us evermore dependent on the logos, messages, narratives and products that make up their cocooning and loyalty-generating 21st century environments. It is in our roles as consumers, end-users, readers and viewers that we have become hollowed out and empty.
As citizens, as voters, as democrats, however … well, I still believe there is a thirst for real engagement. But that opportunity is slowly and severely being excised from our futures – even as we speak. In this vengeance that is our leaders’, time for the rest of us is practically up.
Not the End of the World exactly – but the end of the world as we knew and genuinely loved it.
That’s what the Mayans were really predicting, you know.
The retaking and destruction of complex and thoughtful societies by idiots such as Cameron & Co.
Now that’s what should really terrify us, in my opinion. That’s the really terrifying prospect now facing us.